Explore the best trails near Sonoita with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
I like a challenge and this trail definitely offers one. It's steep...very steep! Probably the steepest trail I have ever hiked to date. I am not a fast hiker and tend to keep a pace that lets me take less breaks. There were many breaks on this trail. I hiked it March 26th alone except I did bring my almost two year old lab. He was a trooper and practically pulled me up the trail at times. Fortunately the weather was fairly cool as I would not recommend this trail in hot weather. The views are awesome and offer views of the valley and Mt Wrightson. We did not take the trail back down and I would not recommend it except to the most hardy of hikers. At the top we connected with the Agua Caliente Trail over to Josephine Saddle and onto Super Trail back to the parking lot. Out total time was about 5 1/2 hours with a nice 30 minute break at the saddle.
On the Coronado National Forest website, the name of this trail is the Very Steep/Vault Mine Trail. I should have read that before I hiked it yesterday. I probably would have done it anyway, but I'd have been less surprised. From the upper parking lot to the Agua Cliente Saddle, is about 3 miles even, according to my GPS. Once you leave the river bed, there is about 1.5 miles of brutally steep terrain. I can do Old Baldy trail from the upper parking lot to the top of Mt Wrightson without stopping to rest. I stopped several times on the Very Steep/Valut Mine Trail.
Coming down the trail is also challenging. Fortunately, I had a collapsable walking stick on my pack. Without one, a normal person would find the trip down quite challenging.
I will hike this trail again, if it is the "easiest" way to get to another trail I wish to see. I will not hike this trail again solely for recreation or entertainment.
Did I mention it was steep?
We hiked counter-clockwise from the picnic area. Much of the hike is on old forest road which is extremely rocky and hard on feet and ankles. Going up there is some shade and nice hike along a stream. Final assent to Kent spring is tough! Coming down the back is gentler trail and you get some great big views. The springs are nothing special....just man made catch basins.
I've done this loop several times. The bulk of the uphill section is an old service road of some kind. There is one section that we've heard referred to as Heartbreak Hill, that is really steep as you approach Kent Spring. Then it becomes a trail as you do the downhill section on the way back. Nice loop and some huge oak trees at the Kent spring area. So this loop passes Sylvester, Kent, and finally Bog springs if going counterclockwise.
I have hiked the vault mine trail as well, probably more often than I cared to, with many loop variations too. I've been up it and down it, and a rating of hard is almost an understatement. This trail is nosebleed steep. When the sign at the jct at the bottom says "very steep trail", they aren't kidding. If you're not in half way decent shape, don't bother with this one. It will have you gasping in short order. Coming down is just as bad. You are almost in a continuous slide on the gravel, or pine needles or whatever is under foot. Don't get me wrong, it has it's pros too, but my rating of 3 stars is due to the degree of difficulty. The views are great, and when continuing on across the Agua Caliente traverse back to Josephine saddle, that is a really nice stretch. Almost no gain or loss for the most part. I would not do this hike on a hot day either, it is very exposed. But steep, did I mention steep?? Only the Carrie Nation trail is in the same realm as this one when it comes to that. Enjoy :)
I have hiked this trail as far as Florida saddle. It is similar to the Florida trail, but not as long and not as steep. It was very forested back then, but I am sure this area was burned pretty bad back in 05. I drove all the way to the end of the road then, but it has been a while since I have taken the Cave Creek turn off from the Gardner Canyon road. Not a very well used trail back then (80's). Not a lot of people went up this way.
Amazing green trail! The trek blew me away. Fairly moderate hike. Trekking poles in some areas are nice going down hill. Overall the trail was well maintained. The trail was so lush! Totally forgot I was in AZ! Some much wildlife! It is truly an ornithologists dream hike! The water in the streams are also super crystal clear! I even dared a handful of water from a flowing pool! Highly recommended
I went in early January and the trail was wonderful. It had snowed the day before which made for a beautiful trail and photo opportunities. My group saw six other people on the trail total which was nice since it is usually crowded in the summer and spring seasons. We went to the summit and spent some time at the top taking photos and stopping to eat. Overall, the trail to the summit took us seven hours. I highly recommend this peak.